In 2018, the Federal Government published a report highlighting the need for massive systemic change in the Australian Education system. The report, titled "Through Growth to Achievement", argues that the current system was built in and for the 19th century, so we continue to educate children for the past. Core features of the system have remained unchanged as we have moved into the 21st century, with schools facing a range of constraints including inflexible curriculum delivery, reporting and assessment regimes. According to the “Gonski Report”, student outcomes have declined in 'every socio-economic quartile and in all school sectors… equivalent to a generation of Australian school children falling short of their full learning potential' (Gonski 2018).
Many schools have made great in-roads to change, offering flexible pathways and alternative provisions that cater to students' needs in all sorts of innovative ways. But the system in which they operate refuses to allow these successes to be nationally recognised or extended to mainstream provision, and hence, they become limited to the small communities who implement them. There have been so many calls for change but no systematic blueprint for how change could be achieved.
The Inventorium provides a systematic blueprint for change. Our aim is to create an education system that fulfils the recommendations of the “Gonski Report”, while continuing to provide nationally recognised qualifications. For a school choosing to implement this blueprint in full, the implications can be huge: for example, learning would no longer be organised around timetables, subjects, and year groups. The Inventorium also represents a major change for teachers, who are called upon to facilitate content beyond their traditional areas of expertise. The Inventorium requires exceptional leadership and change management skills and passionate teachers who are ready to learn a new way of doing things in order to get started. If your school meets these criteria, we'd love to work with you to co-create the future of education and transform your students' experience of learning. We have a 5 Process Framework to help you through this implementation, working to a timeframe that works for you and your school.
We want to partner with schools to provide a service provision alongside you, and as part of your ‘brand’. We do this by setting up a ‘hub’ which is a drop-in learning space fitted out in a manner partly like a co-working space, partly like a primary school library and partly like a small amphitheatre and stage, with a small coffee/kitchen area present. The Hub is ideally located off school premises but adjacent to the school, or in a separate building on school premises. We call our Hub offering ‘Networked World’ as we are bringing other online curriculum areas such as coding into the platform to extend the offering to meet the needs of industries not addressed within the traditional high school curriculum.
We realise that Networked World operates to a very different model to your current offering, and we have learnt from the Inventorium working with public schools that the two do not mould together well, as it is very difficult for management and teachers to run both models simultaneously. Interestingly, students can merge the two ways of operating, while teachers cannot. Many of our students follow a single course in a traditional classroom and the rest they do online with us.
It is perfectly feasible, however, for Networked World to operate within your premises (or at premises close by that you provide) as a sub-contracted service provider. You enrol the students and collect the funding; we invoice you for service provision on a per student basis (negotiated to be less than your funding per student).
Networked World would manage all curriculum, all facilitators, and the space itself, and would report as required back to the school to meet your legislative requirements. The students would still be yours; any resulting would occur through you, students would still identify with your brand, and students would still take part in school clubs and extra-curricular activities. Ideally students would do one subject in the traditional model to pursue a specialist interest, and your mainstream students could engage in some Hub activities also.
Every Hub will be different, to meet the needs of your particular school and community, but the core flexibility at the heart of the Hub philosophy remains the same throughout. The only rule in the Networked Hubs is that there pretty much aren’t any rules (other than OHS, manners, etc).
In short we are offering you an ‘out of school’ experience for the students you are struggling to retain ‘in school’, while allowing you to be part of a leading edge education initiative which builds on the learning we’ve all been gifted through COVID-19, is Gonski compliant, and could be a blueprint for how schools could develop further in the future in a blended model of specialist and interdisciplinary learning.
Networked World is not aiming to replace anything you are doing at the moment. It is aiming to fill the void for those students who are falling through a gap, and provide them with a meaningful outcome. We want to work in partnership with you to provide excellence for your minority cohort who are not serviced by your traditional model.
It's important to keep in mind that many students cope well with the traditional model of teaching and learning. Those who are academically competitive, for example, might miss the emphasis on grades and the ability to compare marks. Students who want to study something with a stronger emphasis on exams and the retention of static knowledge (e.g. law, medicine, engineering) may also be better off continuing in the traditional manner.
We all know that the teacher is the most important person in a student's learning journey. Students work incredibly hard for teachers they connect with, and their attitude to learning often stems from early educational experiences.
Research shows that students often disengage because they lose that personal connection with their teachers. Before high school, there is typically one teacher who oversees the student's progress and responds to their unique circumstances. In high school, the student risks getting lost among eight or more teacher relationships and a complex timetable that moves them from place to place and with different mixes of students.
Students are expected to complete a range of different tasks for different people and staff may find it difficult to coordinate their efforts around each student's circumstances. For some students, this can be overwhelming and lead to disengagement.
High school teachers are subject specialists, so they focus almost exclusively on their area of expertise. While this makes a lot of sense, it has become less relevant with the advent of the internet which provides free, cutting-edge content for almost any subject.
The Inventorium offers a process-based curriculum, in contrast to the traditional content-based one. This means students choose their focus of study and teachers facilitate that with curated use of online content, calling on subject experts only when necessary and as negotiated with the student. This can be a scary prospect for many teachers at first but most are capable of taking on a more generalist role with the proper support.
The Inventorium students negotiate the curriculum individually, including how they will meet the requirements for each assessment. The teacher facilitates this process using the Inventorium as a base, building on it as they see fit.
In contrast with the traditional classroom, the Inventorium teachers only have about 20 students - maybe fewer, if they have Special Educational Needs students requiring additional support. This changes how the school allocates work but it's entirely possible to run alongside the traditional classroom. We also provide a network of Inventorium teachers for them to meet with, and buddy with initially, and undertake Professional Development together. This strengthens the Inventorium team and feeds back into the curriculum design and improvement process.
The Inventorium can be provided face-to-face with full school attendance, in a blended model with some school attendance, or entirely online. The Inventorium students can have their own learning spaces such as the Networked Hubs above and/or work from home or at other locations (such as the library)m - particularly if they are anxious. They can attend school to do group work, meet with their teacher, and socialise with friends. This arrangement encourages students to take responsibility for the management of their time and to become fully accountable for their work.
The Inventorium provides school-developed Learning Assessment Plans and Task Sheets to help with the delivery of SACE. With each student negotiating their own assessments, these documents are written quite broadly. This does away with the need to submit individual modifications and it provides maximum flexibility for how students and teachers choose to evidence assessment. This kind of freedom can be daunting at first, so we have staff development groups and an online community where teachers can discuss how to get student work that meets required outcomes.
Teachers do not need to be especially tech-savvy to use the Inventorium as we've programmed it to meet their needs. Having said that, the system looks and thinks differently to all other education platforms in that it's programmed around the student rather than the timetable, course or teacher. It's so different that nobody has an advantage or disadvantage when they start working with it. We find it takes a few weeks for staff and students to settle into a comfortable routine but once they do, it works very smoothly. The key to teaching with the Inventorium is to let go of your prior assumptions and ways of doing things. The student is the one in the driving seat and the teacher's job is to facilitate their growth.
In the same way every student is different, so is every teacher. We have a range of staff development offerings, from a top end Masters Degree unit which explores online pedagogy, design and delivery, to induction training where our team takes teachers new to the Inventorium through the basics. We also provide written user guides and 'how to' cheat sheets, as well as a chat forum for teachers to share experiences, ask questions, and brainstorm ideas. We can also provide buddying partners so that newbies can talk to someone on a one-to-one basis if they feel stuck or need advice.